An empty cafe in Canterbury has been transformed into a pop-up art shop selling the work of local artists, Canterbury College students and Catching Lives clients.
The building that was formerly Saffron Cafe in Castle Street has been taken over as part of a four-week pilot by STREETS AHEAD Collective, spearheaded by Liz Wellstead from Rock, Paper, Scissors and Ben Kidger, Head of Visual Arts at EKC Canterbury College and team.
Liz and Ben said: “This project seeks to revolutionise Canterbury’s local community landscape.
“The venture involves the transformation of otherwise empty shops / buildings into dynamic and engaging spaces that serve as hubs for learning, creativity and exploration.
“By fostering partnerships with local organisations, including Catching Lives, this collaboration aims not just to create physical spaces from abandoned ones but to also nurture environments that foster connections and inspire creativity within the community.”
The project’s aim is to empower community through collaboration and this exhibition will feature work from local established artists and designers, emerging talents in the visual arts from our students, as well as work by Catching Lives clients.
Liz and Ben added: “This project embodies the merging of influential forces – media and societal impact – leaving a lasting (and we hope permanent) mark on Canterbury’s shopping district and transcending geographical and socio-economic boundaries.
“The event serves as an introduction to a visionary 4-week pilot initiative that lays the groundwork for a larger city-wide vision – envisioning a spacious centre, encompassing creative workshops, studios, galleries and retail spaces aimed at further empowering and enriching the community.
“None of this would have been possible without the incredible generosity of local residents, Julie Dod and Suzanne Folkard who gifted this space, emphasising the project’s significant within Canterbury’s fabric.”
Students and those that benefit from Catching Lives will be on hand in the shop to engage with visitors and promote their work, ambitions, talents and hopes for the future.
Miriam Ellis, Arts & Activities Co-ordinator at Catching Lives, said: “We are excited to be part of this fantastic project. It’s an opportunity for clients to be involved in every stage of the retail experience. From the creative ideas to the fabrication and then the selling. Do come down and visit the shop if you can.”
The shop is open now until Sunday, February 18. The hours are Monday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm.